Why Vermont?

The service we attended Sunday was for a beloved student in my daughter’s high school. A devastating, tragic death. Monday at dinner, her sister and I ask about the day. This is a rural high school, maybe 300 students in grades 7 through 12. The principal asked the whole school to crowd into the auditorium.

What did he think was going to happen? she asked me. We all cried. We all sobbed.

In particular, she told us about the teachers — the men, too, she emphasized. They cried.

There’s certainly less-than-desirable elements about living in rural Vermont: the winters can be nearly unendurably long. It’s an insanely expensive state to live in, particularly in a single income home.  But when the utter awfulness of tragedy rears — as it has before, and as it will undoubtedly do so again — these little communities circle the metaphorical wagons. These hard, hard experiences remind me why I live here, and why I can’t ever imagine leaving.

The earth says have a place, be what that place
requires; hear the sound the birds imply…

— Wiliam Stafford

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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